Saturday, November 29, 2008

How Space Debris is Currently Handled-part 2 (6 of 9)

The mitigation or the slowing of growth, of debris consists of limiting the debris released during normal operations, minimizing in-orbit break-ups and collisions and to seeking to dispose of the spacecraft after its useful lifetime, either by placing in an unused (graveyard) orbit or to de-orbit it, sending it back to Earth. (IADC, 2007) In 2004, The FCC required that to receive a FCC license and continue transmitting, all U.S.-licensed satellites launched after March 18, 2002, will have to be retired in a graveyard orbit after their useful lives (de Selding, 2004). While this is a commendable effort, it is a problem for most of the commercial satellite companies, because the amount of fuel to send the spacecraft into an unused orbit equals 3 months of normal use. And this also quite is difficult to enforce, because much of the time satellites malfunction of are stopped in some way from changing orbits. So while the current method for dealing with the space debris problem by mitigation and shielding seems to work, it cannot be maintained at current levels and keep space usable at current or increased loads in the future. For one of the major problems of space debris is that even if no more spacecraft are deployed and no more potential debris introduced, the amount of space debris would still increase, as proposed by the Kessler syndrome.
The Kessler syndrome, as discovered by Donald J Kessler, formerly head of the NASA orbital debris program office, posits that when the number of debris in orbit reach a critical mass, than it reaches a domino effect of destruction and debris called collisional cascading.
his is when the debris created from one collision or explosion spreads out and causes another collision which then creates more debris and so on, creating a steady growth of damaging space debris that greatly decreases the potential for orbital space use. This decrease of use would be due to the sheer amount of speeding, colliding debris that would destroy a spacecraft in a matter of months or days, or would require so much shielding that, except for the wealthiest of organizations, it would be economically impossible to launch spacecraft that size. Despite this worrying predicament, the required critical mass has been reached in most of the commonly used low earth orbits because of the almost unchecked growth of space debris, due to a lack of concern. The future of space use is too important to risk. The world has become so heavily dependent and benefited so much from artificial satellites in only 45 years, that allowing Earth’s orbit to become a debris cage for the Earth is a step backwards, away from the technological and space age. But it sometimes seems that the countries of the world are taking that step backwards by arranging to weaponize space.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Space Debris is Currently Handled-part 1 (5 of 9)

The current policy of the US (and all other countries) is to not seek ways to get rid of debris, just to diminish the growth of it. The most recent statement, from the United States’ National Space Policy says,
"Orbital debris poses a risk to continued reliable use of space-based services and operations and to the safety of persons and property in space and on Earth. The United States shall seek to minimize the creation of orbital debris by government and non-government operations in space in order to preserve the space environment for future generations."(USNSP, 2006)

The existing management of the problem of space debris is a combination of monitoring the larger debris and shielding orbital spacecraft from the smaller debris. The monitoring is done by The US Space Surveillance Network with a combination of satellites and ground-based radars, tracking debris larger than 3.9 inches in low earth orbit (124 vertical miles to 1240 vertical miles), where the majority of the satellites are, and larger than 3 feet in geosynchronous orbit (22,236 vertical miles), where there are approximately 300 satellites. The debris is tracked every day to predict and prevent collisions with spacecraft. Satellites and The International Space Station can be maneuvered out of the way of larger pieces of debris if given sufficient time to plan and implement beforehand and shielding can protect the spacecraft from the smallest debris (<.4 inches), even though it cannot be tracked. But even the smallest debris can ruin some satellites. For example, a single-tether satellite was rendered useless by a small particle severing the tether, losing its most recent information payload and requiring immediate action to stabilize it. But the middle range from .4 inches to 3.9 inches is classified as the debris “threat”, since debris that size can smash a satellite into more useless and dangerous debris, but technology to shield against that size of debris isn’t practically or economically feasible for most spacecraft, and it is too small to allow radars and other observational equipment to track it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why are Satellites so Important?-part 2 (4 of 9)

Satellites are also used to observe space, to find out the mysteries, laws and events of the cosmos. Space is ideal for this because most of the emissions from space, x-ray, gamma and such, are blocked out by the Earth’s atmosphere. This atmospheric shield is perfect to sustain life, but becomes rather annoying when you want to know what goes on beyond Earth and in space. Figure 3 shows clearly the percentage of each electromagnetic wavelength that goes through the Earth’s atmosphere, and some of the satellites utilized to observe space on their differing wavelength frequencies. The far left represents gamma rays, x-rays and ultraviolet light. The rainbow on the left side represents the visible light spectrum, which is partially blocked by the atmosphere but is monitored by the Hubble and land-based telescopes. The middle is the infrared range. The right shows the only range that is let fully though, the mid-range radio waves, which are monitored on Earth. The chart clearly shows that the range of full and even partial clarity of wavelength is small, showing the necessity of space-observing satellites. With all of the additional wavelengths to study, it increases that many more chances to learn about the universe.
So if these satellites are becoming so increasingly important, is there so much space trash? The space age is only 45 years old, but already the 680.4 tons of space debris make placing anything in space hazardous, especially the more fragile elements of satellites. But if the larger fragments, if objects the size of a softball are considered large, can demolish a satellite with one errant twist in an orbit, why are the smaller fragments, from the .4 and 3.9 inch range, are the ones that are classified as threats by the debris scientists. The smaller debris are almost untrackable and can do considerable damage, because they cannot be detected but can still mutilate spacecraft. But even the tiniest debris, the paint chips the size of a fingernail, are hazardous, for they can form clouds of speeding fragments that can strip an object with the destructive force of a sandblaster, corrupting the satellite elements.

Figure 3 was created by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA)

What are satellites so important?-part 1 (3 of 9)

There exists a recent surge in demand of continually available up-to-the-minute information; so satellite-based telecommunications businesses, including, radio, television and telephony, have a huge potential commercial profit, especially to places where traditional cable isn’t feasible, leading to an increase in satellite communications. For example, DirecTV, a major satellite television company that was started in 1994, has 14 satellites in geosynchronous orbit, each costing hundreds of millions of dollars to construct and But there also exists a much wider variety of use with these communication satellites, which are used for direct-to-home television channels and packages, broadcast feeds to and from television networks and local member stations, distance education by schools and universities, business television, videoconferencing, and to distribute national cable channels (such as ESPN, CNN, or HBO) to the cable TV receiver and satellite TV stations. Satellites are also used to distribute satellite radio, sending digital radio streams across the entire continental US, and satellite telephony, a necessity in extremely isolated areas, such as Mount Everest and the savannahs of Africa or other less exotic, but equally remote areas where cell phone towers do not reach or exist.
But satellites are also relied upon for GPS, a staple in modern American navigating, civil planning and scientific research. GPS, or Global Positioning System (the nickname of the U.S. NAVSTAR Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)), which is made of a network of 24 satellites in geosynchronous orbit, an orbit that allows a satellite to return to exactly the same place in the sky at exactly the same time each day, which allows continually transmitted time and position information that, used in a system of triangulation, allow one to find a receiver/transmitter’s precise location anywhere across the world. The recent and quite complete success and dependence upon the United States’ NAVSTAR GNSS also has inspired other countries to launch their own GNSS networks such as The European Union’s Galileo Positioning system, China’s COMPASS, Japan’s QZSS, India’s IRNSS and the restoration of Russia’s GLONASS. GNSS, along with aerial pictures from weather or other earth-observing satellites, is responsible for the recent jump in information about the world and the infamous Google Maps and similar programs, and allowing for a precise time reference (atomic time) used in earth sciences and telecommunication networks, enhanced 911, more efficient search and rescue, in addition to the more precise and more rapid creation of geospatial information systems, which are used in navigation programs that tell you how far you might be to a place such as a restaurant or museum, for instance, but are used in various occupations such as: environmental impact evaluations, urban planning, criminology, history, sales and marketing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Artifical Satellites and Orbital debris( 2 of 9)

Artificial satellites are used in almost every business or even for personal use. From satellite communications, earth science, astronomy, urban planning, to tracking packages and monitoring weather patterns and natural disasters, satellites are becoming increasingly essential to the modern way of business and life. For example, enhanced 911, in which the emergency station finds the location of the caller, depends upon GPS satellites for most mobile phones. And weather tracking and imaging, vital to air and water traffic and a great help to everyone else, is greatly dependent upon the images that weather satellites provide. So, far from abandoning space after the final moon landing in 1972, space use has only been expanded. In 2007 alone, there were 68 orbital launches and 22 spacewalks worldwide, 19 of those to maintenance artificial satellites. The US and the world have come to depend upon these orbiting satellites, necessitating the tracking and use of thousands of them.
Space debris is considered a problem because of the collisions between spacecraft, especially satellites, and debris. Figure 1 shows the distribution of observable debris (>3.9 inches) in Earth’s orbit, while Figure 2 shows the distribution of satellites in Earth’s orbit. This comparison shows the correlation between the most commonly used orbits and the amount of debris they possess. While spacecraft are made out of extremely durable material, the main problem lies in the large velocities that objects have in orbiting the earth. In space, a .4 inch aluminum sphere in an average orbital velocity of about 16.1 miles/sec has the equivalent velocity of a bowling ball moving at 300 miles/hour. (NASA, n.d.) So while a great deal of the mass of the satellite may be due to the shielding, it usually is not enough to protect against larger debris. And that debris has an especially dehabilitating effect on artificial satellites with their more delicate elements such as memory chips, solar cells and observational lenses that are easily corrupted. So a collision between debris and a satellite is always disastrous to both the information payload on the satellite and the usefulness of the satellite afterwards.

Figure 1 is from the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office Education Package (2005)
Figure 2 is from NASA’s J-Track 3-D (November 16, 2008.) (please click to enlarge)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why Should I Care About This Space Trash Problem, Anyway (1 of 9)

The Effect of the Uncontrolled Growth of Space Debris on the Current and
Future Space Use of Artificial Satellites

The space around Earth is empty, isn’t it? Just occupied by the moon, a few comets and satellites, right? But the earth’s orbit has over 680.4 tons (3 million kilograms) of space debris, unusable man-made material speeding in Earth’s orbits; space “junk” made up of not only items accidentally lost during space missions, such as a glove lost on the first American spacewalk, a camera lost near the spacecraft Gemini 10 and so forth, but also discarded rocket stages, dead satellites and other abandoned spacecraft that are beyond their usefulness but cannot be sent back to earth (Tufte, 1990). But much of the debris is made up of the shattered fragments of such deserted spacecraft, due to collisions with other debris or normal wear and tear of use. For example, all 31 of the nuclear-powered Radar Ocean Reconnaissance satellites (RORSATs), launched from 1967 to 1988 by the Soviet Union, still orbit the Earth unused, but, due to a construction error they create a much bigger problem. 16 of the satellites leak liquid sodium-potassium reactor coolant, making tens of thousands of coolant droplets speeding around after the abandoned satellites, making the orbit extremely hazardous to any human use. But while the RORSAT problem is unique, the fact of debris has become commonplace. After 45 years of space use, there are known to be 17,000 objects larger than 3.9 inches in orbit, which is confirmed by debris monitoring by the US and other countries. But the projected amount of objects between .4 and 3.9 inches in diameter is greater than 200,000, and the numbers of particles smaller than .4 inches, such as paint flakes and metal splinters, probably exceed 10,000,000. (Stansbury, 2005) This is in addition to thousands of orbital satellites that currently have considerable use.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Space Trash-an introduction

The next few posts will cover a research paper about orbital debris. Orbital debris or space trash is a problem that most people are not aware of and probably can not get good information about (I know I had difficulty at first), but this is assuming that they care about such problems. This paper is intended to produce well-researched information that will educate about the effects of orbital debris on communication satellites and countries' reaction to this growing problem. It is intended to convince that orbital debris is a relevant problem to our everyday lives, and we should have an opinion on it.


Broad, W. (2007, February 6). Orbiting Junk, Once a Nuisance, Is Now a Threat. Retrieved April 11, 2008,
Crowther, R. (2002) "Space Junk-Protecting Space for Future Generations (Policy Forum: Space Science). (Statistical Data Included)."[Electronic version] Science 296.
David, L. (2004) . Havoc in the Heavens: Soviet-Era Satellite's Leaky Reactor's Lethal Legacy Retrieved April 11, 2008, from Space News Website.
David, L. (2003)"Tossed in Space (Between the Lines). (Debris in Outer Space)." [Electronic Version] Foreign Policy
De Selding, P. (2004) FCC Enters Orbital Debris Debate. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from the Space News Website
Grinberg, M. (2007) "Risk: the Final Frontier. (FOREFRONT) (Dealing with Orbital Debris)." [Electronic version] Risk Management4.
Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. (2007) IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines. Retrieved March, 21 2008.
Japan. (2003) Hyper Velocity Impact Test of Kibo's Shield. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Retrieved on March 15, 2008.
NASA. (2008)"Monthly Number of Catalogued Objects in Earth Orbit by Object Type." Chart. Orbital Debris Quarterly News. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from The NASA Orbital Debris Program Office Website
NASA "Chinese Anti-Satellite Test Creates Most Severe Orbital Debris Cloud in History." (2007) Orbital Debris Quarterly News. Retrieved March 15, 2008.
NASA. (2008) "Two Minor Fragmentations End Worst Debris Year Ever." Orbital Debris Quarterly News Retrieved March 15, 2008.
NASA Johnson Space Center Orbital Debris Program Office. Orbital Debris Education Package. (2005). Retrieved March 25, 2008, from .
NASA. (2007)"United States Adopts Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines." Orbital Debris Quarterly News. Retrieved March 15, 2008.
Primack, J. (2002)"Pelted by Paint, Downed by Debris: Missile Defenses Will Put Valuable Satellites At Even Greater Risk (Opinion)."[Electronic version] Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 58
Space law. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
"Space Law: Frequently Asked Questions." (2006) Retrieved March 15, 2008 from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Website.
Stansbery, E."Orbital Debris Frequently Asked Questions."(2005) NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. Retrieved March 15, 2008.
Taggart, S. (2001) Australians Take Mir Deorbit Risks in Stride. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from the Space News Website.
Taku Otsuka (Director).Fact Meets Fiction: a Discussion with NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office Part One. (2005) [Motion Picture]. Japan/United States: Bandai Entertainment INC.
Walls, B. (2007) NASA’s J-Track 3-D [Computer software]. NASA.
"What is Orbital Debris?" (2005) Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies. From Retrieved March 15, 2008, from The Aerospace Corporation Website.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

photographs (1 of who knows)

Here are some photographs to even out the blocks of text.

Modernism and Post-Modernism

I recently (about two weeks ago) attended a lecture by Michael Fried for and about the art movement modernism. Here are my thoughts and notes from the lecture.
While the wiki article is through, it does not cover the fact that modernism "was coming to grips with visual issues in art." It was not just a reaction to WWII (though it certainly did include that) or a series of gimmicks, but there were "deep pictorial issues involved."
How so? Art is a language of expression, and until modernism, the language was fairly strict, the majority of art created was representational. This is not to say that art itself hadn't been headed in this direction for some time, because that certainly was not the case. Modernism was both the logical conclusion and unexpected explosion of the language of art into. . . I am not sure what it is now, communication unfettered from language? or has it been transformed into a language so that it can be understood by everyone?

(I am just in art school, so it seems like a language, a lot of rules and grammar, but I know that once you know the rules, you can understand the base form of what other people see and break that form into tiny little bits. You can break rules consciously and use them knowingly, each appropriate to your message. It makes your communication a message to others, other than a speech.
But that doesn't mean I like learning grammar.)

I don't know, really. I have big dreams of the the world should be, from the stories other people tell, but finding other people to communicate this to who will listen/who see the same is difficult, at least with people my age (who, mainly, have never thought about this at all). I suppose perhaps, I am not communicating well enough for something like this.

"I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to [communicate] the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another when the best fruit is." (Terry Pratchett)

But going back to the topic of art, i have some notes of which have caused me to think more throughly about the possibilities of what art can be.

Art is (any combination of the below):
-an idea merged with the canvas, it is one entity
-an object in a world of objects, all interacting with one another-one term in a larger space (this is the view of minimalism, rather than modernism, and not held by Fried, but I had to disagree with him on this point)
-an experience ( the opinion the Fried has is that "theatricality" is "too easy", and this i do agree with, but i feel that it does not make it any less true)
-relational- the different relations/interactions of the objects within the art create the meaning
-expressive-it has a meaning (i believe that if there is no meaning, it is not art. There are many things that look like art that are not art. I am ashamed that I have done so and probably will continue to do so in the future. And all in the name of lucre)
-authority/majesty on a canvas
-ease of gesture
-tensity-is there a conflict?
-meaningful to itself- all meaning it has is contained in it/self-sufficient (this is the view of modernism, it is when the painting has no interaction with the viewer, it has a feeling of voyeurism, that the figures are not acting for the viewer's benefit)

Thursday, November 6, 2008


You might wonder why the updating of this blog is so weird.
It is because I update this when I stay up until 4 am, ignoring homework and unable to tear myself away from the internet. (and I have read all the current webcomic updates of the ones I love)
These items are just things I have previously written or free thought writing and photos from my extensive personal photo gallery. (I take a lot of photos, it has kind of replaced my drawing journal, even though it shouldn't have, because I will never be an animator at this rate, and even though I may never be, I cannot bear to give that dream up just yet.)

I may just post photos in the future, or just write stuff for the photos. Or just look for a job instead. Whichever.


Red was all alone. While Lime jazzed against the background, while Navy mellowed, receding to jam with Olive, while Burnt Sienna spasmed; Red was by itself, separated from the others by a large stretch of empty canvas. Red hated this composition, because it was lonely. Red's only dream was to have friends; to influence and to be influenced by. It wanted to mix its notes, it's ideas of music with all others, to become more than just Red smeared across the canvas; it wanted to become part of a stunning visual composition. Red blared his feelings across the painting, expressing the ideas of yearning and alienation to the other colors that it envied.
For weeks it blared and bugled, trumpeted and sounded, trying to communicate with them, trying to establish a friendship it so desperately wanted. But the other colors were an insular group with inflexible ideas of music, and they quickly dismissed Red's attempts at communication as the work of an amateur. They insulted and mocked him, thinking of themselves as experts and critics of their field.

“What is that din? It doesn't sound like it comes from any real color.”
“More like the sad leavings of a child's finger paints.”
“Just terrible”
“It sounds like it comes from the brownishgrey lump of stickiness that lies in the bottom of the paintbox for years, becaus-
“We understood what you meant the first time.”
“- it is so nasty looking”

But, in truth, they couldn't understand why Red was relentless in his work. So they “suffered” through Red's compositions day in and day out. And while they didn't accept his work as professional, they couldn't help but to use some pieces of his arrangements, some of the ways he liked to place loud and soft sections together, just due to the fact that they heard him playing constantly for weeks. And unknowingly, protestingly (if they did know), all of the other colors began to adopt some of Red's style on their own compositions.
But as the weeks went by with no reply from the others, Red's songs became full of doubt as it slowly began to suspect that its efforts were futile. Eventually, a tremor of insecurity crawled through its subconscious, sliming in and through the senses with a trail of wavering dreams. Red tried to brush it out of its consciousness. It failed. This insecurity was reflected in his work as a gradual reticent sound quality, a gradual quieting of volume as Red tried to convince itself that its dream was worthwhile.
Red hadn't heard their replies because he was so relentless in his own efforts. Due to the combination of the distance separating the two groups and the sheer volume of it's playing, Red was rendered deaf to their replies. So Red wasn't dissuaded by the casual cruelty of his wish-friends, despite of the doubt, it still maintained a desire to become friends with them.
As Red's playing became quieter and quieter, the other colors became filled with glee. They had formed a plan to have Red “suffer” as much as they had, and it was finally time to implement their great plan. They played, trumpeted, bugled and blared. It was extremely loud, loud enough that it caused Red to finally stop playing.
As Red listened, it quickly became aware that these songs piercing over to his lonely stretch of canvas echoed its own melodies, its own arrangements of tone and tempo, but with alterations. And even though it was not exactly to its taste, Red couldn't help but notice how arresting it was. When Red understood this collaboration with his wish-now-for-real-friends, the tremors died. It had fulfilled his dream, it had made friends with the far away colors, it had helped to create a beautiful composition. Red unfalteringly began to play again, its music now filled with an exuberant joy in success.

Another allegory, I suppose.

I want to tell you something important. . . .

I want to tell you something important
Last night I dreamed of you
I dreamt that you gunned down twelve police officers
in a spray of anger and hate
because you couldn't live anymore.
You hated the world for what it had done to you.
You hated civilization
You hated what I had done to you.

I was the one at fault.

But I had to try to defend you against the town, against the state
I had to testify that you would not do that sort of thing
while I doubted.
While I lied.

After I told you all of this on the phone.
You just laughed.

But I am still terrified.

I didn't stop loving you, you know.
I just. . . .
I don't know why I did those things.
I was afraid.
and I blamed you.


People like you and I meet
Of course we would.
Learning the future
of the world.
Of us.
You and I are the same today and tomorrow. . .
But will time and experience change us?
How can I know?
I do not know myself,
or even you.
I wish it would be different.
Every time I see you, I want to tell you that you are beautiful.
Because, sometimes,in class, it is not enough
to only sit and think of you.

Is it odd that I always crush on people in the programming classrooms?
But they are always so beautiful.